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Sunday, July 29, 2018

The Hot Year by Anne Piper

The Hot Year

The story moves between light hearted London despite it being war years, to Delhi and then to Rangoon.

Lucy wants change and she signs up for it.  However this story which could have been a good account of Lucy's life turns out to be rather lack lustre. A girl of this time moving from London to Delhi should have been more full of color and boldness than what it was. I could not find the reason for her love story either. Both Miles who eventually became her husband and then there was her cousin Steve. 

Lucy is a free courageous spirit but the story did not do her justice. She lived and worked with a group of girls who could have and may have contributed more to the war effort but it was not described well in this book.

I expected more descriptions of the work that Lucy would have done in Delhi and Rangoon and in this I was disappointed.

Sent to me by  Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Endeavour Press.

Friday, July 27, 2018

When Paris Sizzled by Mary McAuliffe

When Paris Sizzled: The 1920s Paris of Hemingway, Chanel, Cocteau, Cole Porter, Josephine Baker, and Their Friends

The story of Paris and its inhabitants both local and foreign emerging from the horrors of the World War and almost desperately trying to take back the lost years by engaging on a spell of unhindered abandon of pleasure and throwing back all inhibitions and standards of years past.;

The 1920s of Paris with its history of rich and well known names from Hemingway, Jo Barker, Joyce, Cocteau make up for a heady background of how the rich, the not so rich and the poor fared in this city. Change in every sphere not just entertainment, but art, architecture, and then something unexpected the change in moral behaviour!

There did not seem to be any holds barred and life for those living in Paris knew no boundaries. Fascinating account of how life was lived and loved and how tradition was overthrown for living life to the fullest. It also depicts the rise of an undercurrent of unrest which will have unhappy consequences in the not so distant future.

For people with a penchant for history, also for those with a liking for Paris and for what the city has always been - just different.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of publishers Rowman & Littlefield.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Girls Night Out by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

This was a cliff hanger from the word go. There was a lot of tension between the three friends and despite the friendship, it sounded forced as if there were underlying issues.

Three friends decide to go on a girls trip to Tullum, Mexico. Each one of them had an agenda of their own and each hoped to come back with their friendship mended to what it was before. What was that about never being able to go back.

The story starts out tamely enough. A nice enough resort. Three ladies with money to spend. Plenty to eat and drink. Supposed to be a holiday. The cracks widened quickly enough and festered into open hostility. When one of them disappears with a man, some action has to be taken and when the police and husbands are summoned the story becomes much more black, more threatening and much closer to home.

Amongst the three there is always one odd man out and secrets have to be told if we are to find out what has happened to the missing girl. The troubles are of their own making and they now have to sort themselves out in the best way they can.

The book was sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Lake Union Publishing.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Saving Vengeance by Lt. Col John Witzel

Saving Vengeance

Rob has a hard road ahead of him . He has to live with the knowledge that it was his job which cost him the life of his wife and two daughters. Not an easy cross to bear and one that he is barely able to acknowledge. His survival depends on vengeance on those who planned and executed the attack and after a couple of years it is in his sights.

Rob has kept a low profile though observed throughout by interested parties on either side of the fence. Now with his recent covert operations, he is back in the limelight and there are parties on the other side who are also seeking revenge for loss of their own.

With the help of Special Operations and a supporting cast, Rob goes back into Yemen into an area of almost impossible terrain on his biggest operation yet.

Apart from the thread of revenge, this story is a polished account of how I presume a special operation would work giving in detail the procedure and manner in which such a dangerous journey is accomplished.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Wildcutter Publishing.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Secrets we Keep by Mia Hayes

Jason and Elizabeth have escaped the great city life for suburbia. On the surface it seems it is for a quieter pace of life, or maybe to give their sons a home town feel absent in big cities. Both of them are harbouring secrets though - if it gets out it could put paid to their idyllic lifestyle which they seem to have.

Seem to have is the operative word because this is keeping up with the Joneses big time. Elizabeth wants or rather needs to be in the big league of this small town. Being a Periphery Girl is not enough. She has to be in the thick of things. Having a bi polar disorder and trying to balance being the king pin is not easy and it is beginning to take its toll. The partying, the constant drinking does not seem to help either. Jason starts out as being a supportive husband. He was the initial cause for Elizabeth's collapse, but halfway through you begin to question his actions. I even began to question Elizabeth's therapist, whether she and Jason were in cahoots!

An anonymous blog dislodges an avalanche of secret information - from affairs both past and present, financial situations and family secrets. Who is this blogger and each post brings about more and more disasters in the lives of Waterford residents. Life in the suburbs and being in your thirties is not easy anymore. Its very uncomfortable and even reading about it, put me on edge.

Small town petty jealousies were here amplified to the point that it seemed as if people needed to be vicious and destructive and to see people brought down.

For me personally it all sounded far fetched but then I come from an Asian setting where all this sounds like Dynasty amplified but then the story sounds like this is quite normal for rich families in America! 

Very entertaining reading and a good read (though I do have my reservations on the characters!!!)

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Finnstar.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Lost Children by Theresa Talbot

The first in a series involving journalist Oonagh O'Neil and detective Davies this was a very emotional read. I had read about the Magdalene homes and laundries and thought this was a horrific way for the Church to behave. There are no excuses when it is said it was symptomatic of their times. Compassion or sympathy as a human being was never part of these places and this story revolves around the children who were born, forcibly adopted and lost forever.

Oonagh knows that something is not quite right when Father Watson collapses on the altar of his church. A cranky priest with whom she has had run ins before, Oonagh is perturbed because she was to have an interview with him on the day he died and she just has an instinct that he was about to go out on a big reveal. Was his death a cover up. When attacks escalate and Oonagh herself is a victim narrowly escaping death the Inspector does know that things are not what they seem. Having to tackle an influential church is a daunting task and one that could get him buried as well.

The story tracks girls in general and one in particular - and the ramifications and trauma to the mind decades later. Unraveling it so that justice of some kind could be obtained for even one woman and some peace of mind is Oonagh's own aim. When her own convoluted love life gets in the way, it adds to the emotional roller coaster she is on.

Brilliant novel.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Aria.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

The Hatmaker's Secret by Jill Treseder

This family story started with just the present generations around. Grandparents, parents, the grown up children and their toddlers. It ended up going back several generations across countries and oceans to solve a puzzle which seemed insurmountable.

Kate and David are expecting their second child. The marriage is already tenuous and Kate hopes that with the birth of this baby things will settle down and they can make a go of their marriage. She did not account for her daughter Flora being born biracial to parents who were white. Davids skepticism as to Flora's origins and the general questions being asked around did not help either. It also did not help when Kate appealed to her mother Vanessa for help, her mother more or less ignored her cry for help in any way. Vanessa was nervous around her mother Thea, now in a stage of dementia and did not want to rock the boat in anyway. That she preferred to be deaf and dumb and not be supportive of Kate was a terrible flaw in her personality.

Thea's past was a secret. Kate knew that Thea was the key to unlocking Flora's antecedents. When Thea met her great grand daughter for the first time she threw the baby away almost causing a major accident. She turned vituperative and vicious but still Vanessa and Ted (Thea's husband) were not willing to find out anything further. It is with Thea's death that Kate persuades Vanessa whilst clearing the debris of Thea's house to seek clues as to what actually was their family history.

The story mainly of Thea's past, difficult and complicated and her present life far removed from what it was unravels the difficulties of being different in a country only used to one kind of people. Not that things have changed very much even today where racism thrives in every country in one form or another.

This was an intriguing story, with especially good characterization of women in very difficult situations in life.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of  

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Manton Rempville Murders by Julian Worker

A 700 year old monastery. a couple of snooty aristocrats, a whole bunch of hangers on, shady characters galore, and we have Bingo our retriever whose job it is to find dead bodies. We have a detective as well. Seems a plodder but that is just a facade.

A lot of false clues and a lot of trivia seem to mask the murder. To get to the basics Knowles has to dig deep. Nothing is as it seems (as is very usual for mystery murders) but we get there eventually very nicely.

A simply mystery murder/s solved very well and descriptively told.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of BooksGoSocial.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Becoming the Talbot Sisters by Rachel Linden

Charlie and Waverley are twin sisters who have grown apart. Orphaned at a young age and brought up by a loving Aunt they have drifted but come together for the funeral of their beloved Aunt.

Waverley seems to have it all. A cooking show almost at the top of her game, a loving husband, a very comfortable home. Charlie works for a NGO amongst women in Eastern Europe. She was swindled of her inheritance by a co-worker, she has been raped but all this trauma is hidden.
When she makes an offer of being a surrogate for Waverley who has suffered six miscarriages and is longing for a child of her own they both are shocked - Charlie who was never maternal wonders what made her offer and Waverley is of course over the moon.

Complications set in when Charlie gets back to her routine job and Waverley continues with her life at home. Charlie's inadvertent involvement in a human smuggling ring puts Charlie in danger and when Waverley unexpectedly pays a visit they are both kidnapped but it seems that it is not Charlie who is the target. The kidnappers want Waverley with her TV connections to highlight Albania and the plight of Albanians.

Taking twists and turns (some a bit improbable) the story moves to Charlie having a baby and Waverley facing a predicament of having two children now to choose when an unexpected bonus in the form of a four year old lands at her feet!

The children bring the two sisters close to each other in a way nothing ever can. The story of family set in two locations is descriptive and interesting. The contrast in the two characters was also nicely fitted into the story.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Thomas Nelson Fiction.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Pretty Little Things by T.M.E. Walsh

DCI Claire is not going to have it easy with this one. Six teenage girls are missing. The bodies are not found and when four are found in one area next to each other, it seems the killer is almost egging them on to try to find him. Other than the fact that they are local girls, there seems to be no common link. Typical teenagers confronting authority both society and at home a couple of them had threatened to run away and had done so previously. What had made them accept a lift on a lonely road after explicit instructions had been given not to hitch hike. Did they know their kidnapper and murderer.

Charlotte has just this one child. She is determined to keep Elle safe. Elle is not happy with the situation at all and when her birthday party is cancelled after the four bodies are found she is furious. The story upto this point was the usual thriller/mystery/murder sequel. Detectives trying to piece together fragmented stories, no CCTV footage so the killer seemed to be aware of them, no finger prints, and a community tense and in turmoil.

Midway suspects emerge. As a reader you go through the whole gamut of obvious people around - John who is just separated from his wife, making a play for Charlotte, then there is Iain in whose garage a toolbox is discovered with keepsakes from each girl who was murdered. At this point it looked very bleak for Iain but the end is not in sight for the detectives who are fearful when another woman this time goes missing. A woman who has harassed Charlotte over and over again even in public. The fact that it is a older person kidnapped makes detectives fear that the killer is now spiralling out of control.

The end is twisted, unexpected and I guess no single reader has guessed it until now! I doubt any reader will.

An absolute page turner.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of HQ Digital. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

All That's Left Of Me by Janis Thomas

This was very twisty! there is no way I can describe the way the book went. You had to be very clever to pull this off and Janis Thomas does it very well. I wouldn't want to read many books like this as it does havoc with your mind!

Emma Davis is dissatisfied. With her marriage, with her job and generally with everything. She also does not know and hasn't the courage to start anew with a new job or even to admonish Colin her husband who seems so laid back that anyone would give him a kick in the pants.

Into this scenario we have Emma wishing the way we all do. That something could happen differently, or that a person could change, or just disappear and one by one these things happen. Emma has a son with severe cerebral palsy and I did wonder very early in the book why wouldnt she wish for her son to be well rather than just wishing this one away, or that situation to go away. Once granted it cannot be undone and this becomes Emma's downward spiral once she wishes her son whole and healthy again.

The entire book tests your powers of credibility. Time travel was one genre which took some getting used to, this is entirely different. It is like a separate parallel universe running in different mode, so what happens to the mode that existed before. Just not the individual but everyone in that universe changes to fit the new scenario. It was difficult to digest, but very easy for me to read.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Lake Union Publishing.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Two crime books. Absolute contrasts to each other!

The discovery of a young woman's body is startling. For her teacher Beatrice to find it whilst out on a ramble with her dog was earth shattering. Amber was her star performer in a drama laid out in school and why would anyone want to murder her was beyond understanding.

Beatrice's daughter Jes is the lead detective on the case and facing demons of her own. Told in several narrations, the story is complex with several strands which have to be unified if we can get to the bottom of this mystery.

The characterization was intense so much so, that I was suspicious of them all and disliked practically all of them!

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Standing Stone Books.

A selection of stories, all with a railway background all set in a particular time and setting very reminiscent of Briish colonial times!

It was nostalgic to read this collection of stories. All mysteries, some murders some could be solved very easily, some inexplicable, and some were sheer genius in the solving.

A book ideal not just for readers of crime, but also for those who love the railways!

Very well put together, extremely entertaining.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review courtesy of Poisoned Pen Press.